THE dining areas of the Senate were locked down after three in-house caterers were found infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The executive lounge and canteen will be closed for two weeks starting Monday, March 15.
The Senate will still hold regular but shorter sessions.
Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd said in a text message: “We will remain in semi lockdown. [We] will most probably end sessions by 6 PM, [as the implementation of] health protocols [within the premises] will be stricter.”
He added that the Senate could not afford to skip sessions “because we have two weeks before the break and there are many bills from the House of Representatives that we need to act on.”
“Of course, nand’un ako (I’ll be there). Sessions are not official if there is no senator in the Senate physically present,” he said.
The caterers tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.
Senate Secretary Myra Marie Villarica on Sunday issued an advisory informing employees of the temporary closure of the dining areas for disinfection and sanitation.
Senate employees were advised to bring their own food and drinks while the dining areas are being disinfected and sanitized.
Five senators contracted Covid-19 in 2020: Juan Edgardo Angara, Ramon Revilla Jr., Ronald dela Rosa, Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, also postponed indefinitely the hearing on Monday on the shootout between Quezon City police and agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
He said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas and PDEA Director-General Wilkins Villanueva both tested positive for Covid-19 “and all other resource persons from both camps are exposed to their principal and further advised to undergo quarantine.”
“One of the close contacts of General Sinas and Gen. [Vicente] Danao, died yesterday after testing positive together with the CPNP (PNP chief). Committee hearings of this kind can be more frustrating if done virtually,” dela Rosa said in a statement.